Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, January 8, 2016

Did I say food? I meant it when I said it.

I will probably come back to this book, but here is a start on the genealogical aspects of food.

Mayerne, Théodore Turquet de. Archimagirus Anglo-Gallicus: Or, Excellent & Approved Receipts and Experiments in Cookery Together with the Best Way of Preserving. As Also, Rare Formes of Sugar-Works: According to the French Mode, and English Manner. Copied from a Choice Manuscript of Sir Theodore Mayerne Knight, Physician to the Late K. Charles. Magistro Artis, Edere Est Esse. [London]: Printed for G. Bedell, and T. Collins, and are to be sold at their shop at the Middle-Temple-Gate, in Fleet-street, 1658.

Note the publishing date. It seems that whenever I get interested in a topic, I find all these basic online sources that I have never heard of before. I was trying to find an online copy of the above book and ran across the Early English Books website.

 This is definitely one of those "good new, bad news" websites. It is described as follows:
What is Early English Books Online? 
From the first book published in English through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare, this incomparable collection now contains more than 125,000 titles listed in Pollard & Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue (1475-1640) and Wing's Short-Title Catalogue (1641-1700) and their revised editions, as well as the Thomason Tracts (1640-1661) collection and the Early English Books Tract Supplement. Libraries possessing this collection find they are able to fulfill the most exhaustive research requirements of graduate scholars - from their desktop - in many subject areas: including English literature, history, philosophy, linguistics, theology, music, fine arts, education, mathematics, and science.
Sounds wonderful, but it is only available to universities and colleges that subscribe. So at first, I could not find a "free" online copy of the book although the book is definitely in the public domain. But my friend the (Internet Archive) came to the rescue and I found a PDF version of the original.

So we can explore recipes from the 1600s and find all sorts of other interesting things to write about. But that is for another post. I was fascinated to find a reference to "hot dogs" back in the 15th Century. As I mentioned in my first "food blog" effort, I was raised on fast food: hot dogs and hamburgers (with french fries) were my staple diet. So naturally, when I began writing online many years ago, with the help of my brother, we started the "World Famous Hot Dog" website. Unfortunately, the website has been lost to posterity unless I can remember the URL. But at the time, we were interviewed by the Washington Post and appeared in the New York Times. I guess that was my five minutes of fame.

If you are a genealogist you are probably wondering what this has to do with genealogy. But let's get real. All of us eat food. All our ancestors ate food. What could be more basic to life than food. So it was probably inevitable that I would start writing about food some time. Anyway, given some of the people and entertainers scheduled a keynotes at the upcoming RootsTech 2016 Conference, I am seeing that the field of genealogy is becoming more eclectic all the time and they also sell hamburgers and hot dogs at RootsTech.

Anyway, your ancestors probably ate hot dogs and may even have had a hamburger or two. The claim to inventing the hot dog goes back to Gaius, back in the Roman Empire. Here is a quote from a feature entitled, "Break Out the Buns: The History of the Hot Dog:
But who made the first hot dog? Historians believe that its origins can be traced all the way back to era of the notorious Roman emperor Nero, whose cook, Gaius, may have linked the first sausages. In Roman times, it was customary to starve pigs for one week before the slaughter. Gaius was watching over his kitchen when he realized that one pig had been brought out fully roasted, but somehow not cleaned. He stuck a knife into the belly to see if the roast was edible, and out popped the intestines: empty because of the starvation diet, and puffed from the heat. According to legend, Gaius exclaimed, “I have discovered something of great importance!” He stuffed the intestines with ground game meats mixed with spices and wheat, and the sausage was created. 
After that, the sausage traveled across Europe, making its way eventually to present-day Germany. The Germans took to the sausage as their own, creating scores of different versions to be enjoyed with beer and kraut. In fact, two German towns vie to be the original birthplace of the modern hot dog. Frankfurt claims the frankfurter was invented there over 500 years ago, in 1484: eight years before Columbus set sail for America. But the people of Vienna (Wien, in German) say they are the true originators of the “wienerwurst.” No matter which town might have originated this particular sausage, it’s generally agreed that German immigrants to New York were the first to sell wieners, from a pushcart, in the 1860s.
This, of course, led me to remember one of my favorite books of all time, The Pushcart War.

Merrill, Jean. The Pushcart War. New York: W.R. Scott, 1964.

This is one of the basic books on strategy and winning wars etc. Had Lincoln read The Pushcart War, the Civil War would have ended much more quickly. As you can see, food touches all of our human endeavors so why not genealogy?

Contrary to the well publicized origin of the hot dog, the origin of the hamburger is steeped in mystery. One account has ships in the 1800s on the Hamburg line (well known passenger lists from Hamburg are a stable of German research) making sandwiches from a meat patty between two slices of bread. But that is a stretch since the "sandwich" which was meat between two slices of bread is attributed to the Earl of Sandwich in 18th Century England. In any event, the English word "sandwich" is attributed to an event in London in 1762. Here is a quote from a post entitled, "The Sandwich—a Word with Nefarious, Blasphemous, and Corrupt Origins."
The word sandwich that we use today was born in London during the very late hours one night in 1762 when an English nobleman, John Montagu (1718-1792), the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, was too busy gambling to stop for a meal even though he was hungry. The legend goes that he ordered a waiter to bring him roast-beef between two slices of bread. The Earl was able to continue his gambling while eating his snack; and from that incident, we have inherited that quick-food product that we now know as the sandwich. He apparently had the meat put on slices of bread so he wouldn’t get his fingers greasy while he was playing cards. It’s strange that the name of this fiend should have gone down in history connected to such an innocent article of diet.
This historical fact sounds too convenient for my taste. I think that the event probably just popularized the word rather than the object.

 Just think, if I had thought more about food and less about genealogy, I might have been on TV like The Pioneer Woman and had a show on the and those of you who attended RootsTech 2014 would have seen her in person. So you see, I am not so far afield as it may first seem. Meanwhile, if you want to watch a dancing hotdog, see the following:


  1. I Searched Google with WORLD FAMOUS HOT DOG WEB SITE TANNER, and the third entry is an article that refers to your eatery's web site ( However the link that used to point to your web site is not active currently or findable in the Wayback Machine. Thanks for the info on Hot Dogs.

    1. Well, thank you. But we never did sell hot dogs, we just wrote about eating them.

    2. Here is the link to the New York Times article about our website.